After the Civil War ended American slavery in 1863, the politics of sugar in the former slave state of Louisiana changed drastically. Most plantations lay in ruins, planters were heavily indebted, and uncooperative bankers refused to lend them money. Desperate and nearly bankrupt, they could muster little political leverage against the lobbying power of the sugar refiners, who wanted cheap sugar from any source, notably domestic beet and foreign cane sugar. More gallingly, planters were even forced to pay and make other concessions to their former slaves, now busily establishing themselves as free political beings. Ironically, these freedmen made the sugar plantations where they had lived and worked together the locus for recruiting, proselytizing, and organizing their mutual aid societies, political clubs, and militias.